‘Crushed Mustang: 20 Years Ago Today’
(Composed 11 Dec 2019) (Posted 14 Dec 2019)
Bear with me.
This might be familiar to you who are following this web-site. This is not a complete re-write of my prior essay. I am writing my reflections and recollections here today about something that happened to me exactly 20 years ago today. I wrote this composition as I attended to errands. I added notes as the day progressed. I completed this essay the next morning.
Waiting for the light rail, I noticed the ants and bugs going about their daily affairs as does every living creature here on Earth, here among our collective Cosmic Dust. They are amazing! There are cracks in the sidewalk as wide as they are long, yet there they scamper, easily crossing those cracks. Imagine a human crossing a chasm six feet wide like the breeze.
It occurred slightly after 11pm on 11 Dec 1999, a Sunday evening. Let’s first go to Saturday.
I was driving my classic 1965 Ford Mustang – light baby blue – from Phoenix to Tucson. I bought the car in 1994 – essentially free. The owner just put $1500 into it and sold it to me for $1900. I cared for that classic. I did most of the routine maintenance. I bought it in Condition 2; my garage mechanics and I improved it to Condition 4.
Frequently, people approached me at parking lots. They admired the car – that it was a Classic, that it was a Ford Mustang, that it was in such good condition. Strangers – they made offers – $10.000, $15.000. Nope. Not gonna sell it. I was too proud of it to sell.
I usually drove between 55mph and 65mph on the freeway. For the first time, that Saturday, I drove it faster than 65mph. I took it to 75mph – the legal limit. She purred all the way to Tucson. Wow! What a quick ride. Usually, the drive was about two hours to go the 110 miles.
I was driving home from Tucson to Phoenix on that fateful Sunday evening. I had been at work at the Oasis Network / TCCC TV station – as was my routine for nearly a decade.
I had a fun time at the studio – editing my Rock Club Rising TV show, crewing other TV shows, enjoying the holiday season with friends at the TV station.
Here’s part of my story:
I filled my gasoline tank at the Union 76 filling station near where I previously resided at Tucson. I was a regular there, I didn’t quite know the people who worked as attendants, but I figured that I should be social and friendly and wish them well during the holidays. I was not certain whether or not I would be at Tucson til the new year.
Looking back, Karma is interesting. What if I stayed longer? What if I did the fill-up and went on my way? What if I didn’t stop there at all? That decision would be one of numerous critical decisions that evening.
I made my way from Tucson, settled in, turned on KFI AM from Los Angeles on the night-time skip.
To be continued.
My Bestie and I decided to dine at our Oriental buffet now.
It’s Thursday morning – 6am – as I resume my re-telling. Wednesday was a l-o-n-g day; I fell asleep not long after arriving home Wednesday evening. My Bestie and I shared a good meal and good conversation. Kapung Khaf.
I was at the outskirts of the Phoenix metropolitan area by 11pm that fateful Sunday evening 20 years ago.
It was an empty freeway – few other motorists at that time. I saw headlights in my rear-view mirror as I scanned the road to the front, sides, and rear. They were distant. The next time I scanned the rear-view mirror, those headlights were getting unusually closer faster than what seemed expected. I was driving in the ‘slow’ lane and took little concern – expecting that that vehicle must certainly be driving in the fast lane going as fast as they likely are.
Next time I scanned the rear-view mirror was too late. That vehicle was right there – in my slow lane, right behind me. I turned to look forward and hit the accelerator at the same time as that vehicle slammed into the rear of my car.
I felt the jolt of the collision. I took a direct look rearward, I saw that the rear window was blown out and the cold night air was blowing my belongings on the rear seat.
I looked forward. The car began to fish-tail, I controlled that action with all my effort to avoid wrenching into the on-coming lanes or the side shoulder.
I saw headlights in the on-coming lanes – that could have been disaster if I lost control and veered into that traffic.
I was familiar with the side shoulder – empty of anything to hit other than the wire fencing or occasional tree.
Suddenly, as I was handling that fish-tailing, that vehicle struck me again. How could a driver be that un-controlled of their own vehicle to crash into another vehicle twice!
That second collision lurched me and my car to the right side shoulder. My only thought was more of my driver education training kicking in. Knowing that I lost control of my car, I went to lie across the front seats so that I would not crash my chest into the steering wheel or get windshield glass broken into my face.
Lying across the front seats was possible only because this car was not equipt with seat-belts. The car was not required to have them because of its age when there were no seat-belts in cars.
Lying across the front seats saved my life.
In the late evening dark, I had no idea what was actually happening as it was happening. I learned later that the car hit a mound of dirt about six yards across, flew up, turned over, crashed flat on the roof, and rolled twice. All I saw as it happened was that I was being jostled inside, my belongings flung about and hitting me. I had no idea in that darkness that my car hit that mound of dirt, crashed on the roof, and rolled twice; dunno what I would have thought had this happened during the cold light of day.
The good of this, crazy as that may sound, was that the roof of the car was smashed flat and sealed me inside; there was no space open enough to have thrown me from the car. The good of lying across the front seats was that I was not crushed had I been sitting upright, as would have been had I been wearing seatbelts.
The car settled. Desert dust circulated inside and outside the car.
There was barely enough opening as I gazed outside. I assessed my self. I seemed incredibly well – relatively. I sensed that I could move my arms and legs – that was good, no apparent paralysis from spinal damage. I did not seem to see any blood, that was also good.
I saw two lights approach me. They were two guys, each with flashlights, scanning the night scene. They talked to each other. One man also had a portable telephone – I heard him speaking to emergency services. I heard one man to the right side of the scene as I observed him scanning his light to a tree; he told the other man that he saw a body in that tree. The other man shone his light inside and yelled to the other man that he saw a dead body inside the car. I responded to both – I called out that I was the only person in the car.
Emergency services arrived. They used the Jaws of Life to cut off the roof, cut open the door, extract me from the car, and place me on the gurney.
The EMTs wheeled me to the waiting helicopter ambulance. They began cutting my clothes off, apparently to assess my injuries. I considered it reasonable to inform the EMTs that I am Inter-sex and Transsexual – I did not want them to be surprised by my irregular anatomy. I did not expect what happened next.
Instead of being wrapt in warm blankets, the EMTs cut off all my clothes, exposed me totally naked in the cold night, and summoned the others to come take a look. I did my best to cover my intimate anatomy with my hands.
Then an EMT stuck hypodermic needles into me. He was drawing blood samples. He accused me of driving drunk, driving drugged, driving impaired, and that these blood draws would be used against me. I told him that I was not drinking, was not drunk, was not drugged, was not impaired. I told him that another vehicle hit me – twice. Did that EMT abuse me, treat me as a pin cushion, because of my being Inter-sex and Transsexual?
The EMTs began moving me towards the helicopter ambulance. They barely had me strapped to the gurney, I jostled, I repeatedly pleaded with the EMTs to secure my two arms dangling down and off the sides of the gurney – they ignored my pleas. Did they do that to me because I am Inter-sex and Transsexual?
This would be my first – so far only – time flying in a helicopter. ‘I’m flying!’ said Garp.
The Emergency Room accommodation was equally un-welcoming. The ER physician was rude to me, ignored me as I asked questions about my condition. My collar bone was broken – he refused to acknowledge it, refused to treat it. I had a severe skull fracture – he secured my skull with 11 staples (I counted each one) without any anaesthetic. He ignored my complaints of shoulder pains at my right shoulder. Did he mistreat me because I am Inter-sex and Transsexual?
The hospital orderly wheeled me to my in-patient room and to my bed. It was about 4.30am. I was still flowing with adrenaline. I watched TV from my bed. First, I watched ‘Serpico’. Then I watched the early morning local news. There it was – my crash scene on local TV.
The nurse gave a men’s urinal bottle to me to use. Pffftt! I managed to shuffle my way to the bathroom toilet instead. Did the hospital nurses do that to me because I am Inter-sex and Transsexual?
I fell asleep. Through my haze, I saw a police officer at my bedside leave paperwork. I fell back asleep.
I awoke later, a little clearer. I saw the papers and read them. That cop had the nerve to charge me with multiple infractions. Did he do that because I am Inter-sex and Transsexual?
I called my work and told them what happened.
I called my garage and told them what happened.
I called my Uncle Artie and told him what happened. Thank you, Uncle Artie, for collecting my belongings and driving me home that next day.
Somehow, the garage obtained my crushed Mustang and took it to their property; Uncle Artie retrieved some of my belongings including a change of clothes. The hospital discharged me by late morning; Uncle Artie drove me home.
I spent the next week recovering. My tangerine tree kept me fed with fresh fruit.
I went to the scene two weeks later. I made a video recording; I included video clips in Rock Club Rising. There were the tire skid marks on the freeway lane where my deflated tires rubbed the pavement. There was that mound of dirt. There was the disturbed dirt where my car rolled and settled. I found some of my belongings that scattered from the event; I collected what I could.
I found a lawyer. He helpt, barely. He filed some kind of legal action challenging the charges – no tail lights, no insurance. Of course ‘no tail lights’ – the other vehicle blew them out when he hit me. ‘No insurance’? There’s my policy right there – that damned cop did nothing to bother asking me for it. And that’s supposed to excuse a hit-and-run driver? Why was the other driver not apprehended and charged with criminal counts! Did this rude ‘Smokey’ act carelessly because I am Inter-sex and Transsexual?
A week later would be Karma. That police officer was parked along the side of a freeway. An 18 year old kid high on drugs rear-ended the cop car and killed him. Thank you, Karma child.
My lawyer did little else with my case. Somehow, the court dismissed the charges against me. But whoa Nelly! What about the motorist of the vehicle who hit me? I had to do all the table-tapping on my own.
It was a bus driver who hit me, driving for Tres Estrellos de Oro. He had been driving from El Paso to Phoenix that Sunday. I learned his schedule. Mathematics came to my aid. He was running behind schedule at the time when he hit me. I calculated that he had been travelling between 80mph and 90mph when he hit me. He committed hit-and-run – he did not stop at the collision scene.
My lawyer was absent from me. He took no action on my behalf, though he strung me along telling me that he was working my case. Because of his legal malpractice, his interference prevented me from obtaining other legal representation. I was too naive about this at the time when this was happening. I expected legal services for a lawyer – obviously, too much to expect.
Why do I write that that cop was crooked? I received the police report of the collision. It was only three pages long, and that’s being generous. Bear in mind, my job for the State of Arizona included receiving police reports of vehicle collisions. Those reports were routinely several pages thick.
It would not be til about November 2001 when the final, vital pieces of this puzzle came clear. I caught a front page news article about the chief judge at the jurisdiction where my collision occurred. He was convicted of multiple counts of insurance fraud. Seems that he and others – including that cop at my scene – were running a scam that involved multiple levels of authority. And the explanation why my lawyer did nothing – the legal community was aware of what was happening among themselves, but lawyers don’t sue other lawyers, or judges. Or at least my lawyer lacked the stones to do what he was supposed to do. Was my absence from the prosecution of these crimes because I am Inter-sex and Transsexual?
Wednesday when I began writing this became a l-o-n-g day for me. I was up early – 2.30am to 6am. Then dozing til I had to get up at 8am to be out of the house by 9am to arrive at 10am in time at the Red Cross blood donation site to do another apherisis – that’s a double donation. Next was a series of errands and grocery shopping. Topped off with dinner with my Bestie. I think that we arrived home about 9pm, maybe later. I don’t know, I squatted to sit down on the floor, but I literally fell asleep sitting there. I awoke briefly about 10pm, dozed, awoke about 10.45pm, slept til 2.30am Thursday morning, and continued this essay.
Thank you, Dear Reader, for being here today.